It’s all Sunshine and Margaritas
There’s a well-worn saying countering the romantic image of lazy days, freshly-shaken cocktails and beautiful sunsets following a warm day in the sunshine:
It’s ‘sailing is about fixing your boat in exotic places.’
Or in this case, trying to stop the water taps coughing and spluttering like a 50-a-day smoker while on the waiting pontoon at Viana.
This problem, plaguing us for a few days, also resulted in the water pump randomly switching itself on and staying on… but it’s only designed to run for a maximum of 20 minutes. Annoying at best, water pump failure has potential to damage the watermaker, which relies on pressurised water to flush it through every 2-3 days when not being used to make water.
So, our first day in Viana was spent as plumbers. And referring to the the excellent Moody Owners Association for wisdom, we set about diagnosing the problem.
To cut a very long tale short… after lifting up the cabin floor to check for leaks from the water tank pipes (which also gave us the opportunity to liberate the stored booze from the bilge), and replacing the water pump, the culprit was identified to be the manual water pump letting in air. Now that’s disconnected, and saved for emergencies only, all is splutter-free.
Later the previous evening, a French yacht came along to moor against us. Clearly we did the British thing and told him to bugger off elsewhere because he is the wrong size / shape / colour. I am, of course, speaking in jest here and am referring to my previous mild rant on a fellow brit in Guernsey.
We helped them tie up next to us, exchanged a few pleasantries and that was that. Later, they invited us to join them for drinks the next evening. Which, of course, we graciously accepted.
Jean-Pierre, Jean-Michele, Patrick were great company. We shared our experiences of getting here and our future plans in a mix of English and Frenglish. They are on their way to Madeira, then to the Canaries, from where they plan to cross the Atlantic to Martinique in December.
They prepared canapés for us, and a line up of alcohol from which to choose. We opted to go with the majority, and two Ti-Punches later our eyes were well glazed over. They might be maths teachers, but I don’t think they can calculate alcohol very well. If they roll out the booze like that every night – I suspect they might get in trouble. We’ll keep in touch to find out.
Song and Dance in Viana
After rolling off their boat, we found a small and lively restaurant near to the main town square. Frequented by students, and therefore at a price pleasing to us Northerner’s, Liz’s restaurant serves good food at a very reasonable price – and the service is excellent. This turned out to be a lucky choice. Not only was it kind on the wallet, if we had chosen somewhere else, we might not have found the folk concert held that night in the square.
The posters around town stated that the concerts ended the day before, so when we saw the stage and the chairs still in place, we thought it was a bit of slackness on the part of the road crew. But on stage, a few musicians were tuning their instruments and the sound and lighting guys were doing their thing. People were going in, so we followed them and took up seats near the front.
This is all free by the way.
To be honest, our expectations were low. The setup gave the appearance of a classical folk concert – although I couldn’t quite fathom why they were so far back on the stage.
After half an hour, announcements were made in Portuguese – so we were still non the wiser – and the orchestra started playing. They were good.
Then out came the dancers.
I can honestly say I have never seen a show as good as this. The repertoire was as broad as any high-priced production and the skill of the musicians and dancers was truly incredible. These folks are beyond excellent. It was high-paced, superbly choreographed dance. And their energy levels stayed high right through to the end – one and a half hours later. Think Riverdance with the use of arms.
We didn’t know until the end that it was the Serbian folk dance team.
Quite rightly they received a standing ovation from the crowd. I was completely blown away, and even Maria was impressed.
The next day was sightseeing day.
On the way in to Viana, clearly visible up on a hill, is the Santuario de Santa Luzia. A beautiful church overlooking the entire area. So that was our goal.
For the time-limited, or just bone-idle, there is a funicular railway running from near the train station to Santa Luzia. We fall into one of those categories, so got on it. Built in 1923, but heavily restored since then, the funicular hauls people up a height of 160 metres over a distance of 650 metres in 7 minutes.
Because of its age, there is no air conditioning – so it’s a bit of a hot and sweaty journey. It’s a better option than walking up there, however, as that would reduce even the most ardent hill climber to a broken slippery mess.
The church is currently undergoing some restoration, mainly cleaning as far as I can see, but it detracts not from it’s beauty. It’s a relatively young building – completed in 1959 – but there’s not a single slab of concrete in sight.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the streets, taking photographs, and adding to our bulk with the local donuts (Bolas de Berlim).
The next morning the weather forecast was as forecast… lighter winds and smaller waves, so after stumping up a very reasonable 29 Euros per night to the folks at the marina – it’s onwards to Porto.